Group Fitness Etiquette | Are You up to Par?

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March Fitness & Wellness Corner
By Christie Simoson, Assistant Fitness Director

The time has come to talk about Group Fitness Etiquette. Many individuals may not know that there are certain spoken – and unspoken – rules of a gym. The good news is that I am about to let you in on a little secret on how to be the best Group Fitness Attendee you could ever imagine to be.

Nobody’s perfect. We get it. There are some days where we may have absolutely no control over the turn of events that are occurring throughout the day, and somewhere we just cruise all the way until our head reaches our pillow at night. While we understand those “I can’t even today” situations, we must ask that you try your best to bring your manners along with you to the gym. What does that mean? Well, we have a few questions we would like you to ask yourself.

Group fitness instructors put time and effort into creating a fun-filled class for participants with a well thought out warm-up, body, and cool-down. Having an individual walk in a few minutes late can potentially interrupt the flow of the class, as well as disrupt other participants. When we begin class, we are typically locked-in, front and center, throughout the entire length of the warm-up. The warm-up is an essential part of the session, as it sets the tone and preps every physical body for the remainder of the class. When you arrive at or after the class start time, you deprive us instructors of the allotted time at the beginning when we would like to welcome and assist you, while asking you if there are injuries we need to help accommodate.

If you are more than 10 minutes late on any given day and you somehow made your way into the studio, please expect the instructor to kindly ask you to come back for the next class. We are not doing this as a punishment, but rather for your safety. We have a 10-minute policy to protect you, as a participant. After 10 minutes, you have completely missed the warm-up which includes an introduction, overview, safety speech, and exercises for muscle preparation and safely increasing one’s heart rate. Even if you warm-up elsewhere or are coming from another group fitness class, your body may not be prepped for what you are about to do in that specific format, as no warm-up is the same. If you were to dive right into the body of any group fitness class (yes, even Yoga) without a proper warm-up, you are putting your body at a much higher risk for injury. Your safety is our top priority, and we are not willing to risk it. Please be sure to enter the studio at least a few minutes prior to the class start time to get yourself set up. Also, I encourage you to SAY HI during this time! We like talking to our participants. Let us know how you are doing that day. Maybe you are just barely making it by and are surprised you even made it to the gym. Or maybe you are ready to rock and seeking that extra push of motivation! Let us know how you are feeling prior to the start time so we can help you get the most out of the class.

I have a confession…whether you sneak your phone on the handlebars of a bike, or run over to check it during a break in any other class, we notice! Looking at your phone during class is not only disruptive to other participants and the instructor, but also to yourself. You are cheating yourself of those sweet, 45 – 60 minutes of class that you specifically put aside for your own well-being (and maybe even sanity) that day. I understand there is a thing called emergencies – we all have them. But unless you are expecting an emergency phone call, I must ask that you keep your phone a healthy distance away from you during class. The class might even seem a bit more enjoyable when you leave all of your stressors at the door. And don’t worry, they will be there for you when you leave – I promise! Also, if you know you are expecting an emergency phone call, please inform the instructor that you will be keeping your phone nearby, as you are expecting an emergency phone call at any time prior to the start of class (see what I did there?). Lastly, please turn your phone on silent. I think the reasoning behind that one is self-explanatory.

Between work, academic classes, the commute, or anything else that life may throw at you, it can be hard to find time to have a chat with your friend(s). We understand; but doing so during a group fitness class is not ideal. We encourage you to make it a fun outing or social gathering for your group of friends, but we ask that you keep the talking to before or after class. Similar to the other etiquette tips and reasonings behind them, talking during a group fitness class can be disruptive and, well, rude. Being a chatter bug shows us that you are excited to be there with us for the class which gets us stoked! But once the warm-up music begins, we ask that you focus on yourself and the task in front of you up until the round of applause that I hope you give yourself at the end. Like I said, this may be the only 45 – 60 minutes you and the other participants have to work on your own health and well-being; let’s make the most out of it!

Almost all of our equipment have labels showing their designated home. While I understand that you may not have picked up your piece of equipment from the right area, we do ask that you return it to the correct one. The instructors can only see or assist with so much at a given time. Have you heard of the ‘pay it forward’ movement? You would be doing us a HUGE favor by ensuring it is put back neatly and in the accurate location, so the participants in the next class can grab what is needed efficiently. Speaking of equipment…

Gym bacteria. Ring Worm. Warts. MRSA. These are things in which we wish to never – I repeat – NEVER encounter in our Group Fitness Studios. However, we do get a bodily fluid known as sweat on our equipment, and this can lead to bacteria among other things. To ensure the cleanliness of our equipment and safety of our participants, we ask that you wipe down the equipment you used at the end of each class with the gym wipes provided in the studios. Do you know the sayings, “if you break it, you buy it,” or, “if you spill it, you clean it?” We use those in the Studios, too; “if you use it, clean it.”

The people of Georgetown are busy, busy folks. While we prefer you stayed for the entire length of class, if you find that you must leave a few minutes early, please do so discreetly. Also, I encourage you to cool-down and stretch on your own. There is this ugly thing that can happen if you do not cool-down properly called blood pooling, which can cause you to faint. What on earth is blood pooling you may ask? In short, your body is continuously pumping oxygenated blood throughout your entire body while exercising; if you were to immediately stop, because your heart rate is still elevated, it will continue to push this oxygenated blood to your extremities. Seeing as the blood is continuously being pulled away from your brain, it can cause you to feel light-headed which can then lead to fainting. While all YFH staff are trained to assist you if this were to occur, we prefer that you just stick around for the cool-down, as it is in our best interest – and yours – that you don’t pass out.

We at YFH, pride ourselves on facilitating a group fitness program in which all participants have a positive experience each time they step into one of our studios. We do our best to make certain that the participants are exposed to a comfortable, non-interrupted class each and every time. In order to accomplish this, we have these policies and procedures to ensure that we deliver this optimal class experience for the participants.

Again, we don’t expect everyone to be perfect all of the time – that’s not realistic. What we do ask is that you try your best to consider these simple items in order for you – and all of the other participants – to partake in the best group fitness class experience we can provide.

I hope you enjoyed the read. If you happen to join me for one of my classes, be sure to say ‘hi’ and let me know what you thought of these group fitness etiquette tips. See you in the studio(s) soon!